Contact: Caroline Rabbitt (202) 224-2353
Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), a Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) Commissioner, and Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Co-Chair of the CECC, today introduced the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, legislation that would renew the United States' historical commitment to freedom and democracy in Hong Kong at a time when its autonomy is increasingly under assault. The legislation also establishes punitive measures against government officials in Hong Kong or mainland China who are responsible for suppressing basic freedoms in Hong Kong, especially in connection with the abduction of certain booksellers.
"The United States must lead the world in ensuring that the Chinese government ceases any repressive acts in Hong Kong and abides by its three-decade-old international commitment to respect the autonomy of Hong Kong," said Cotton. "This bill would empower the president to hold Beijing accountable and send a strong message to Chinese officials that attempts to undermine liberty in Hong Kong and walk away from their promises will not be without consequences. Hong Kong's unique identity and traditions of liberty, rule of law, and a market-based economy can be a model for a China that is a more productive player on the international stage. U.S. foreign policy should encourage those traditions, and strongly warn Beijing against any diminishment of those values."
"When the British handed over Hong Kong to the Chinese in 1997, Beijing promised Hong Kong would enjoy a high degree of autonomy guaranteed under Basic Law," said Rubio. "However, in recent years, Beijing has consistently undermined the ‘one country, two systems' principle and infringed on the democratic freedoms the residents of Hong Kong are supposed to be guaranteed. This was on stark display over the last year with the abduction of the Hong Kong booksellers, the required loyalty oaths in the lead-up to the September LegCo elections, and last week with Beijing's unprecedented intervention in Hong Kong's legal system to block two democratically elected politicians from assuming office. China's assault on democratic institutions and human rights is of central importance to the people of Hong Kong and to its status as a free market, economic powerhouse and hub for international trade and investment.
"The importance of this legislation was again impressed upon me today after meeting with pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong, who became the face of the Umbrella Movement for many in late 2014," added Rubio. "Joshua is an impressive and thoughtful young man who, along with his fellow activists, represents the future of Hong Kong - a future that must not go the way of Beijing's failed authoritarianism and one-party rule. It is critical in the days ahead that the democratic aspirations of the people of Hong Kong be a vital U.S. interest and foreign policy priority. The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act reaffirms America's support of the people of Hong Kong as they seek to oppose Beijing's efforts to erode democratic institutions."
The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act would: